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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Visually limping’ Putin visits Crimea amid ICC arrest warrant: Ukrainian official

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of its annexation by Ukraine, despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) issuing an arrest warrant on Friday over alleged war crimes in the eastern European country.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, tweeted a video of Putin claiming that the Russian leader “visibly limp” during his visit.

Putin’s health has been questioned in recent months, with the Russian leader’s armchair diagnoses gaining prominence since the war began last year. In the past, social media users and analysts have tried to interpret footage that appears to show him limping across Red Square, clinging to his desk and a listless right arm.

“A visibly limping Putin arrives in occupied Crimea Russian sources report Putin’s visit to Sevastopol to ‘celebrate’ the anniversary of Crimea’s annexation. ‘ Gerashchenko wrote on Saturday.

Still, Putin’s alleged health condition did not appear to impede or affect the course of the war in Ukraine, where fighting between his forces and Ukrainian troops has extended to major cities including Kiev, Odessa and Kherson. Most recently, fighting intensified in Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, where months of fighting raged between Russian and paramilitary forces against Ukrainian troops.

There is still no end in sight to the war, but Western nations, including the United States, continue to provide Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid. Kiev also recently reiterated its pledge to retake Crimea, which was forcibly and illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian media recently reported that Russian forces on the annexed peninsula of Crimea may be “preparing for a possible so-called forced evacuation.” According to a report by Amnesty International, an international organization that focuses on human rights, Crimea has seen human rights violations and a crackdown on dissent by Russian authorities since its annexation.

Calls for an investigation into Putin’s war crimes grew louder after the Russian leader declared war on Ukraine, but Friday’s ICC arrest warrant is the first formal international indictment since his invasion of the war-torn country.

The court, which does not recognize Russia but prosecutes war crimes defendants, accused Putin of unlawfully abducting Ukrainian children and youth and transporting them to Russia, where many were adopted by Russian families. An arrest warrant was also issued for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova.

The forced deportation of populations is recognized as a crime under the Rome Statute, which Russia signed but withdrew in 2016.

news week emailed the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

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